The NCSL Blog


By Holly South

We recently caught up with several legislative staff from around the country to find out what they love about the legislature, insights for their peers and how they’re coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Staff week logoFor more interviews, check our website and look for the upcoming edition of State Legislatures magazine. (These interviews have been edited for length.)

Ann Marie Walp, Senior Advisor to the Tennessee Senate Chief Clerk

Why did you choose to work at the legislature?

I wanted to learn more about the process of state government and also wanted to be closer to my family.

What do you find most enjoyable and/or rewarding about your job?

I rarely have the same day twice. I am constantly learning new elements of the process and I meet someone new every day. I also really enjoy the people I work with which makes me extremely lucky.

What work are you proud of?

I began work with the Senate Clerk’s office six years ago as a part-time employee with the goal of working my way up to being a valuable part of the office. I am very proud to still be a part of my original team and to consider myself a “catch-all” employee. My attitude will always be that there is no job too big or too small.

I am also very proud of my involvement with the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries. I am not the best at everything, and I certainly don’t have all the answers. Having a network of clerks from around the country with decades of institutional knowledge is invaluable.

When you are not working, what might we find you doing?

Cooking for my husband and our friends, kayaking and playing with our puppy, Sugar.

Any insights for your peers? Any shout outs to colleagues or legislators you’ve worked with?

Surround yourself with people you can learn from. I am very fortunate to work for Chief Clerk Russell Humphrey and Lt. Governor Randy McNally. Also, keep a good attitude and root for others to succeed.

How are you managing to stay resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic?

March and April of 2020 have been particularly difficult months for my home city of Nashville. Throughout the tornadoes and COVID-19 pandemic my family and friends have been extremely lucky to remain both safe and healthy and they are the best motivation for resilience. Keeping in touch with my work family, real family and friends through phone calls or Zoom social gatherings makes these strange times seem a bit more normal and guarantees at least one laugh a day, which never hurts.

Nick JacobNick Jacob, Public Information Officer for the Washington State House Republican Caucus

What’s your specific role in the legislature?

Along with managing external communications for six members, I also serve as outreach coordinator and video coordinator for the caucus.

What do you find most enjoyable and/or rewarding about your job?

I’ve always enjoyed working in politics, especially behind the scenes. It’s such a unique job, and that’s why I love it. Having the opportunity to help my members communicate effectively with their constituents through email updates, video updates, op-eds, etc. is hugely rewarding. I also really enjoy the people I work with, both in communications and policy.

What work are you proud of?

A few years ago, I pitched the idea of our shop hiring a session videographer. I knew having someone in that role would help our rapid response efforts and allow us as the minority party to change the narrative in Olympia. For the past two sessions now, we’ve been able to do that with great success.

Any advice for your peers?

Make the people around you feel valued. Take five minutes to have a meaningful conversation with someone, buy them a coffee, let them know you were impressed by something they did, etc. You’ll be amazed at the difference you make in their lives.

How are you managing to stay resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I feel extremely blessed to have a job where I’m able to work from home. There are millions of people in our country who don’t have that opportunity and are now out of work, so I feel like my resiliency pales in comparison to theirs. I also think about the people in the hospital battling against this virus, as well as the doctors and nurses on the front lines saving lives. Then you have our farmers, truckers, military personnel, and so many others making a difference on a daily basis. They’re the resilient ones. We need to pray for them and do whatever we can to help them in the coming days, weeks and months.

Holly South is a senior policy specialist and NCSL's liaison to ASLCS and LINCS.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.